I always dreamed of becoming a sports hero.
I wanted to be the guy who scored the winning goal or hit the winning runs. I wanted 100 000 people to cheer my name. I wanted Mum to be proud but instead I became a sports journalist and this is why.
My earliest sporting memory was the Springboks returning to international rugby in 1992 against New Zealand. I was only nine but the match left a lasting impression. Soon afterwards India’s cricketers were touring South Africa. I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up – a sportsman.
An aggressive collection of sports equipment, shirts, magazines, books, autographs and whatever else I could get my hands on commenced. I would put on my SA cricket shirt and bowl in the backyard for hours after school. In winter I donned my Bok jersey and practiced goal kicking. The large tree acted as the poles. However, it soon became clear I was hopeless.
I could not run, jump or throw so athletics was out. I could not tackle so my rugby career flopped. My fast bowling was on some kind of morphine so I set my sights on becoming the next Shane Warne. Sadly every ball I bowled was the wrong one! Oh and of course I could not bat.
My determination endured. I tried baseball, hockey and soccer – when we lost a pre-season game 11-0 I knew I was no goalkeeper. Maybe tennis would be my game. Maybe not. I got no love from that sport, or squash for that matter. After being taught how to drive a golf ball my first shot was perfect; straight down the middle of the fairway. The next 30 shots all went pitifully square along the ground and I knew golf was not for me.
I was desperate to be the family’s first sports hero. So desperate that when my high school history teacher invited me to try rugby (again) I accepted. Maybe this time things would be different. They were. Curiously I found myself in the front row. Without knowing how to scrum I crouched, touched, engaged and pulled a muscle in my back. I did not attend school for the rest of the week let alone walk again until the weekend.
Forced to consider my options, I decided to cut my losses and do the next best thing and I am glad I did. I would not trade my job for anything in the world.